A day of solo shopping on Fifth Avenue in NYC was never truly an affair void of conversation. If you’re anything like me, you have plenty of voices in your head to keep you company.
“My body will never look good in that.” “Sure. Perfect for a wafer-thin, six-foot model and no one else.” Or, “Ugh. This size fit me two months ago, I swear!”
Sometimes it felt like as I strolled along, the sound of my thighs rubbing together was louder than the pile up of honking cabs making their way up the avenue during rush hour. And believe it or not, it took me quitting my demanding job on Wall Street and making my way around the world solo to turn that negative body talk into self-love and acceptance. And I know exactly why.
Your body can take you places many only dream of visiting.
As my calves burned and my back ached on my hike up an intimidatingly steep mountain in the South Island of New Zealand, I had a thought very different from those days of retail un-therapy.
I love these amazingly strong and powerful legs that are going to carry me to the top of this mountain so I get to breathe in one of the most beautiful sights my eyes may ever see.
When you push yourself in any of life’s situations, you realize how rare it is for your body to give up on you. So, why are we always telling our imperfect bodies how screwed up they are or how they aren’t doing what we want them to do? Or, how we wish we could trade them in for someone else’s body? Maybe we’re even telling them that they are keeping us from true happiness or all the things we want in our lives.
Our bodies are the eternal optimists, so why are we always trying to tear them down?
You begin to appreciate the differences in people, and how they are all beautiful.
One day in Cambodia I watched an elderly woman with a forehead full of wrinkles, and a body that jiggled in every different direction as she pushed a cart of fruit down a dirt road, and I thought – she is so beautiful. No fancy designer clothes. No pilates-induced tight rear end. No pricy cosmetics to cover the fine lines. That beauty was the glow of happiness.
When you stop judging yourself and your own imperfections and start looking around at the people that you are drawn to as beautiful and breathtaking, you’ll often find that they have many, if not more, of the imperfections you have yourself.
You focus on the gifts your body gives you, not what your body gives to other people.
If you really think about why you’re obsessing that you aren’t a size 4 or that your colleague doesn’t have upper arms that flap when they wave goodbye at the end of the work day, it often has everything to do with other people’s opinion about you.
We’re so worried about others judging us that we forget that everyone else is comparing, too. Maybe that “perfect” colleague of yours is envious of your beautifully straight teeth every time you smile at her, or the fact that you have flawless skin.
When you’re traveling and your mind is full of what new cuisines you’ll try next, exercising for the sole purpose of getting stronger for that next big hike, or neglecting to put on make-up for fear of missing that ferry – you suddenly forget to obsess about your imperfections.
After all, with so many beautiful things in this world to see, who could possibly be wasting time looking at you just to judge your appearance?
And when you realize that, you stop judging yourself and those voices in your head begin to softly whisper to that beat-up body of yours, “thank you, and I’m sorry.”